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WAG changes fundraiser's theme after community reaction

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Reeling from a backlash to its "Big in Japan"-themed fundraiser, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has scrapped it and will now go with a "Hot and Cold" theme.

The WAG announced today that its 25th annual Art and Soul fundraiser has been relaunched after the original theme "was met with mixed reactions in the community."

Stephen Borys, the WAG’s director and CEO, said in a statement that through social media and emails people had expressed dissatisfaction with its "Big in Japan" theme.

"It became clear over the course of the last few days that the event itself was being overshadowed by the issues at hand," Borys said.

"However, when the community speaks up, we listen."

A column in the Free Press today, by Jenny Heijun Wills, an assistant professor in the University of Winnipeg’s English department, called the WAG’s original theme "particularly hurtful."

Borys said the WAG would never want to "reduce any culture to stereotypes.

"We are sorry for any offence that was caused."

The Hot and Cold: 4 Seasons at the WAG, with four floors of decor and entertainment, is being held on Feb. 22.

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